Democrats & Liberals Archives

Science and Technology Links for Week of April 12, 2010

Political Highlights for this week’s links: Popular Mechanics goes into the science behind the recent coal-mining disaster, Scientific American ask about the progress and potential of Electronic Medical Records, and talks about the potential for wind power to fill the East Coast’s needs, and Ars Technica goes into the FCC’s ambitious Telecom plans, and an amusing mistake by an UK Official across the pond, regarding a controversial bit of internet legislation there.

So, take out the crystal ball, what else here could matter to politics and the economy?

Well, let's start with the magnet. That might increase the efficiency of power generation, since generators work by the movement of magnets. But of greatest note in the upgrading of our grid might be the molten metal batteries. These batteries have great potential:

A battery as large as a shipping container could deliver a megawatt of electricity, or enough to power about 10,000 100-watt light bulbs for several hours. Its cheaper material costs compared to lithium make it a more cost-effective candidate for scaling up the power grid.

This might be of importance given the fact that wind and solar energy sources are inconstant. They're already looking into ultracapacitors and sodium sulfur batteries along these lines as well. Why not scale up lithium? Well, lithium isn't necessarily the most common element on the planet. This promises to be more economical.

Memristors also show great promise. They could literally change the way people make computers:

Since memristors can store and process data simultaneously, stack on top of one another in a 3-D fashion, and function at much smaller sizes than a transistor, this advance could increase the power and memory of computers to nearly unimaginable proportions within only a couple of years.

One part of it is that memristors both process and remember things at the same time, combining processing and RAM in one package. That cuts down on transit time for electrons. They also store information in a non-volatile way, which would be of help, since you basically need to boot up your operating system because it runs from your computer's RAM, and that goes blank when the computer goes off.

How about another, before I leave you to your reading? The green LED item is important. Why?

A new approach to fabricating light-emitting diodes (LEDs) could be used to increase their efficiency by 20 percent while yielding higher-quality light than conventional LEDs. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO, have demonstrated the approach by making a yellow-green LED that could soon be combined with other colored LEDs to yield white light. The new LED could help replace current, inefficient methods of generating white light.

LEDs are bright, and power efficient, even more than flourescents, but they're kind of off-looking, and for a reason: Folks have been having a hard time making green LED elements. Those familiar with color theory or computer graphics will know that to get white light in the additive color system, what your monitors and TVs use, you need to combine Red, Blue, and Green. Red and Blue, we've got. Green's a problem. Or maybe, was a problem. If they got the problem kicked, they can more efficiently produce White Light that looks healthy as illumination.

And that? That will pave the way to LED illumination, something that can vastly drop the power needed to light up our workplaces and homes.

And with that, I turn you over to my links.

Popular Science

Physicist Creates Most Magnetic Material on Earth, Might Overturn Laws of Physics

Virus Helps Researchers Split Water into Hydrogen and Oxygen

MIT's Surround Vision TV Lets You Watch the Action Even After It Moves Offscreen

Robo-Suit Will Help Aging Japanese Farmers Pick Crops with Ease

Molten Metal Batteries Yield 20 Times More Current Than Lithium-Ion

Hewlett-Packard Unveils Real-World Memristor, Chip of the Future

To Crack the Mystery of the Hexagon on Saturn, Researchers Model it in Water

Inkjet Cell Fabricator Prints Healing Flesh Directly Onto Wounds

Popular Mechanics

Water, Hydrocarbons and Life on Saturn's Moons: Gallery

What Can Go Wrong: The Dangers in Longwall Mining

Is There A Niche For Solar-Powered Planes?

Can Light Tricks Make Solar Photovoltaics Affordable?

A History of Iron Men: Science Fiction's 5 Most Iconic Exoskeletons

Discover Magazine

A Hidden Cosmic Neighbor: Cool Brown Dwarf Found Lurking Near Our Solar System

Three Miles Down in the Carribean, the Deepest Volcanic Vents Ever Seen

Volcanoes on Venus Could be Alive & Ready to Erupt

For This Deep-Sea Animal, Oxygen-Free Is the Way to Be

Texas Stadium Implosion: Football’s Loss, Seismologists’ Gain

New evidence of (transient) liquid water on Mars!

Scientific American

Will Electronic Medical Records Improve Health Care?

Swirling dust shocks physicists

Present imperfect: Is the human brain ill adapted for language?

String of offshore turbines along East Coast could provide steady supply of wind power

Acoustic lens generates bullets of sound that may lead to sonic scalpels

Information-age math finds code in ancient Scottish symbols

Technology Review

Microsoft's New Office Faces the Web

Green LEDs for Efficient Lighting

Solar-Powered Desalination

Creating a Portable X-Ray Machine

Is 3D Bad for You?

Ars Technica

Ars Technica reviews the iPad

UK govt: IP address is "Intellectual Property address"

Google turns up the heat on Office with collaboration tweaks

Don't blink: Hard-charging FCC turns broadband plan into action

AMD announces Turbo CORE for upcoming desktop CPUs

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at April 12, 2010 5:23 PM
Comment #299126

Thanks for the links.

Considering that there hasn’t been any discussion about these links, I was wondering if anyone wanted to talk about the change of direction for NASA set forth by the Obama administration, which surely would have been included here if it had been known.

Personally, I like it; I was a bit skeptical about Bush’s plan to return to the moon. We’ve already been there, and it’s a pretty crappy place; current technology precludes any sustainable lunar habitation. I don’t think there is much more to be learned by going there, especially when we contrast that with the amount of information we can get from unmanned missions & space-based telescopes.

It’s still a good idea to keep the manned space program alive. We need to find a cheap way to put people in NEO. I also like the fact that we will still be in pursuit of putting an astronaut on Mars, which would be a key test for future Human exploration of the Solar System, which could contain inhabitable places on several of the moons of the gas giants.

Posted by: Warped Reality at April 17, 2010 4:57 PM
Comment #299207

Warped Reality-
That’s just the thing: The Space Shuttle was never a cheap way to get anything into orbit. Imagine having to pay ten thousand dollars for every pound you lift into orbit.

We’ve essentially been trying to run NASA on the state of the art of almost a half a century ago. I think it’s time we go back to the drawing board and rethink the way we’re doing space travel.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 19, 2010 10:50 AM
Comment #299254
The Space Shuttle was never a cheap way to get anything into orbit.

That’s the multi-billion dollar question regarding NASA. We need a cheap way to get to NEO. The shuttle was supposed to be the answer because it was reusable, but most of its components need to be swapped out for each launch. Never mind the fact that the serious safety flaw in locating the shuttle on the side of the rocket/fuel tank instead of on top.

One thing that makes me wonder is how NASA will be able to handle to missions that are becoming increasingly divergent: Low-cost trips to NEO & highly sophisticated trips to the rest of the solar system for scientific research.

Posted by: Warped Reality at April 20, 2010 11:36 PM
Comment #299317

NASA’s Solar Observatory

Posted by: Warped Reality at April 21, 2010 11:59 PM
Post a comment